What Yankees can expect versus the Twins in wild-card game


Tuesday night in the Bronx will see the Yankees take on the Twins for the right to move onto the ALDS. Let’s take a look at what manager Joe Girardi is game planning for.

This is not the wild-card play-in game anyone expected in April. After losing 103 games in 2016, Paul Molitor‘s Twins will take on Joe Girardi’s Yankees, who, themselves have sped up the organizational rebuild by an entire calendar year.

For those who need a refresher on how these two teams fared most recently against one-another, it was a complete one-sided clobbering back on Sept 18-20, when the Bombers swept the Twinkies, 18-6 in total runs scored.

Slated to start for the Twins on Tuesday, Ervin Santana was the tough-luck loser in the opening game of the series, allowing two runs in just 5.2 innings pitched.

Easily the Twins’ best starting pitcher in 2017, Santana’s All-Star campaign was highlighted by a 16-8 record, 2.88 ERA, 1.126 WHIP and five complete games.

For his career, Santana, 34, is 6-10 with a 5.66 ERA in 20 starts against the Yankees.

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Led by three-time batting champ and .300 hitter Joe Mauer, the Twins’ offense is extremely balanced, featuring four left-handed hitters, three switch hitters and two righties.

Second baseman Brian Dozier is coming off another excellent season, hitting 34 homers, 93 RBI and scoring 106 runs. As for one bullet, the Yanks may have dodged, power-hitting designated hitter Miguel Sano only recently returned from a lengthy DL stint due to a stress reaction in his right shin.

The Home Run Derby runner-up to Aaron Judge, Sano slugged 28 home runs, 77 RBI and a .859 OPS on the year, but struggled in limited duty since his return, going 1-for-8 in two starts.

In typical Girardi fashion, the Yankees’ manager was complimentary of the upcoming opposition, telling NJ Advance Media that the Twins remind him of his own ball club in a lot of ways.

"“I think we’ve played well against them here. We didn’t play so well in Minnesota,” Girardi said. “I think they’re similar to us where they have a lot of young players mixed with some veterans that have quite an influence on their clubhouse. They have a starting pitcher who’s pitched very well this year, like our starting pitcher in (Luis) Severino. I think it’s a great matchup.”“I think our club is confident going into it,” Girardi said. “But I’m sure their club is, too. So it comes down to a one-game shootout, in a sense, and the team that plays the best is going to win.”"

Next: Why Judge deserves the AL MVP over Altuve

The Yankees will look to extend the Twins’ playoff drought to 13 consecutive losses in October dating back to 2004.